Last weekend I made jam for the first time *ever*.
will doubtless seem to some a shocking revelation, while others will be
totally unsurprised. I am, after all, hardly a Domestic Goddess. I have
just discovered the new nomenclature of 'outsourcing the catering' when
having friends over for dinner (aka getting in a takeaway, preferably
one that is delivered). But the lady round the corner had phoned in
desperation: could I take some plums off her hands, as her trees had
gone into overdrive. I'm not the world's biggest plum fan, having
endured a surfeit of them as a child, but I had seen a recipe for plum
clafoutis that looked quite straightforward and was marked 'easy' in the
margin. Yes, I said, I can take a few.
My next mistake was letting the OH go round to collect them. He, of course, did not endure a surfeit of plums as a child
and was therefore not shocked when the plum-grower filled a carrier bag
(admittedly, a small one) for him with a fraction of her produce.
shouldn't be eating puddings. I certainly shouldn't be eating plum
clafoutis day after day after day, especially when it's made with double
cream. What else could I do with it? A vague memory of a jam setting on
my breadmaker popped into my head. Would that solve my problem?
Fortunately the recipe was extremely easy: 500 grammes plums, halved,
peeled and stoned; a cup and a half of granulated sugar; 2-3 tablespoons
of lemon juice; some pectin. I can't remember how much pectin because
in the end, despite my OH locating some, I didn't use it. There should
be enough naturally occurring pectin in the fruit for the jam to set, I
reasoned, happy to agree with several in the online fora.
don't know if you've ever tried peeling plums. You can't use an
ordinary peeler as you would for apples or potatoes. And trying to get
the stones out of them wasn't always easy either. I was lucky that the
halves were supposed to be chopped roughly before putting in the
machine. After that, it was easy enough. Switch it on to the correct
program, sit back for a few minutes before sterilising the jars (which
in my case involved washing in hot soapy water, rinsing and then baking
in the oven, as per the breadmaker's instructions; no boiling jars and
fingers for me!). Everything went to plan and I have in fact made a
second batch, following the same instructions. The jam hasn't set
brilliantly but then we bought some jam in the Azores earlier in the
year that wasn't set - still tasted amazing. The second batch is darker in colour as I didn't peel most of the plums, hoping that
there will be more pectin in the skin.
surprised me most was the reaction from my friends. 'You'll have such
fun,' they told me. Really? I haven't had the heart to tell them (until
now) that I've done it using a breadmaker in case that has taken the fun
out of it all. But having to boil away sticky stuff on the hob, testing
the temperature at regular intervals, trying to decant the bubbling
gloop from a large saucepan into a small jar without spilling it all
over the worktop - I fail to see where the fun is. Perhaps I should have
taken greater pleasure from having my fingers stained plum-colour for
several days afterwards. Suffice to say, the next jam I make (and yes,
there is satisfaction in making one's own jam, especially from produce
that was free, rather than buying jars of it from the supermarket) will
be done in the breadmaker. And I will have great fun sitting reading a
book while it cooks.